Artisan Farms earned the NF 2016 Owner of the Year award with 32% of the vote and a slim lead over Gary & Beverly Widdowson, who earned an equal 32% and just three votes less. Both owners supported the successful journeys of Olympic horses; as did Haras des Coudrettes, Stephen Conter, and the Qatari Equestrian Federation, all of whom were nominated for Owner of the Year, and all of whom saw horses they own compete at Rio.
The Widdowsons demonstrating their deep faith in rider Nick Skelton as he nurtured Big Star along a tumultuous path that inevitably led to the Olympic Individual Gold medal at Rio.
Artisan Farms owners Andy and Carlene Ziegler have been a major force in North
American show jumping for over a decade. The Zieglers were first introduced to the sport through the passion of their daughter Caitlin. They later began investing in show jumpers and partnered with Lamaze and Foster. Eight of the ten horses declared as fit to represent Canada in the 2016 Olympics were owned by Artisan Farms.
In the months leading up to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, debate swirled around the preparedness of host country Brazil, leading some to question whether traveling to Rio would be a sound decision. Horse owners were among those who doubted they would attend, a heartbreaking decision given the monumental time, effort and funds poured into the journey of the horses and riders they supported.
Artisan Farms owner Carlene Ziegler was among the owners who were on the fence. But with two horses entered to represent Canada—Fine Lady 5 ridden by Eric Lamaze and Tripple X III ridden by Tiffany Foster—Ziegler made the last-minute decision to go to Rio to watch her horses compete. In the midst of a very large Canadian cheering section in the middle of the large grandstand at Deodoro Equestrian Center, Ziegler could be seen, decked out in red and white, cheering louder than anyone in the stadium. Even Lamaze couldn’t help but notice, and from the middle of the arena, he pointed to her and tipped his head in acknowledgement.
Lamaze went on to win Individual Bronze, and Foster finished within the top 30 Individuals. For Team Canada, and Team Great Britain, not to mention every other owner who supported an athlete that successfully competed at Rio, it was the ultimate reward.
See How They Voted:
Artisan Farms 32% – 660 votes
Gary & Beverly Widdowson – 32% 657 votes
Stephen Conter 20% – 401 votes
Haras Des Coudrettes – 9% – 175 votes
Qatar Equestrian Federation 8% – 160 votes